Date: April 4, 2018
State: New York
Officer: Four unnamed officers involved
Passerbys saw Saheed Vassell in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on April 4, 2018, pointing a silver object at people. Three people called 911 to report the suspicious behavior. The first two callers speculated that the object might be a gun, one of them saying that Vassell appeared mentally ill, and the third caller said that the object was a gun. Five police officers arrived at the scene, two of whom were in uniform and the other three were in street clothes. Vassell pointed the object at the officers using a two arm shooting stance. The officers feared that the object was a gun, so four of them shot ten rounds at Vassell, striking him in the head and torso. The object was a metal pipe from a welding torch. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 35 years old.
Saheed Vassell’s father, Eric Vassell, reported that his son suffered from bipolar disorder. He added that his son was prescribed medication, but he stopped taking it. After an internal investigation, an attorney general announced that the unnamed officers will not be criminally charged. One concern that has been raised questions why these officers were in the area in the first place. NYPD states, “the same officers work in the same neighborhoods on the same shifts, increasing their familiarity with local residents and local problems.” Other officers familiar with the area have received calls about Vassell prior to this incident and knew about his mental illness, but the police responding to this case were unfamiliar with the area and Vassell.
Cook, L. (2019, March 29). No charges for cops in fatal shooting of Saheed Vassell: AG. Retrieved from https://www.amny.com/news/no-charges-police-shooting-saheed-vassell-1.29134627
Dienst, J., & Beckford, C. (2018, April 09). Officers Shoot, Kill Man Who Pointed Pipe at Them: NYPD. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Police-Shooting-Involved-New-York-City-Brooklyn-Crown-Heights-478800703.html
Gabbatt, A. (2018, April 07). Saheed Vassell killing puts policing and gentrification in the spotlight. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/07/saheed-vassell-policing-gentrification-brooklyn-nypd
Karimi, F., & Levenson, E. (2018, April 05). New York police release video of Saheed Vassell pointing object before fatal shooting. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/05/us/nypd-police-shoot-man-metal-pipe/index.html
Mueller, B., & Schweber, N. (2018, April 04). Police Fatally Shoot a Brooklyn Man, Saying They Thought He Had a Gun. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/nyregion/police-shooting-brooklyn-crown-heights.html